Orgasm Justice: Are You Entitled To Climax?

Header image source: Getty Images / Mic

If you’re a woman and listen to Nicki Minaj and Amy Schumer, sounds like you should be! But is there more to the story? Read on to find out. My colleague Rachel Kramer Bussel wrote a piece on orgasmic parity and interviewed me for it, where she explained the impetus for the article:

Recently, both Nicki Minaj and Amy Schumer have come out swinging for “orgasm equality”—namely, that when a woman has sex, especially with a man, she is entitled to an orgasm. Minaj declared in Cosmopolitan’s July issue, “I demand that I climax. I think women should demand that.” Schumer told Glamour in the August 2015 issue, “Don’t not have an orgasm. Make sure he knows that you’re entitled to an orgasm.”

It’s a great article that raises many valuable points, including how some people use orgasm as a bargaining chip or power-play tool, and I’m so glad I was able to contribute to it. Alas, as often happens,  I had way more to say than could fit in someone else’s article, and so here’s an expansion on my thoughts, beyond what got used.

Orgasms: What Do The Numbers Say?

orgasm gap

Jessica Valenti, in an article defending “orgasm equality” and Nicki’s words, gave us the scoop:

According to the Kinsey Institute, while 85% of men believe that their partners had an orgasm during their last sexual experience, only 64% of women report actually having one. And the Cosmopolitan’s Female Orgasm Survey this year shows that only 57% of women climax regularly with a partner. Those numbers change a bit depending on who women are having sex with though – a 2014 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that lesbians had a nearly 75% orgasm rate.

Men across the sexuality spectrum, however, all reported around an 85% orgasm rate, and another study shows that 75% of men report always having an orgasm during sex. Every. Single. Time.

Nicki And Amy’s Rx For Orgasm: Too Prescriptive?

I bristle at most definitive statements about how people should exist in the world. Whenever I hear “always” or “never,” it sends up red flags in my brain because those words usually erase a lot of nuance and variability of human experience, and often go hand in hand with oppressive ideas. I can’t help but eye-roll when people, especially professionals and/or media darlings who have big platforms, use prescriptive language about how people should be having sex  or perpetuate the assumption that everyone WANTS to be having sex in the first place. Still: that doesn’t mean Minaj or Schumer’s comments are entirely off the mark or unimportant.

I believe that Nicki Minaj is speaking from a place of seeing societal orgasm disparities and trying to resolve them in her own life, then, at its core, giving advice to others to not put up with inconsiderate partners [particularly men] who demand orgasm but do not reciprocate. That’s the key message I think people should take away from her comments. I see her speaking from a place of empowering women, even if she isn’t doing it in the most nuanced or inclusive way, and suspect that’s also because she wasn’t giving a manifesto on the matter, but instead briefly commenting on it. The people criticizing her for being “demanding” or “not caring about the man’s feelings” are missing the point AND also contributing to harshly judging the words of women of color, and especially Black women, who are already culturally presented as “loud and angry” for even existing.

Honestly, I care less about if Nicki self-identifies as a feminist or somehow embodies “perfect feminism” for all [coughrespectabilitypoliticscough] and more about what she says and does, and what we can learn from her that supports our personal visions of feminism—and there is a LOT there to work with. As scholars, educators, sexuality professionals,  activists, whatever: our work shouldn’t be to undercut Minaj, but instead further nuance her statements and get at their roots rather than a superficial understanding, especially if we want to reach the people she’s talking to.

Similarly, Schumer speaks about body positivity, being deserving of love regardless of size, introducing partners to the marvels of the human clitoris, and not letting dudes get away with just ignoring her pleasure. But her entitlement isn’t exactly the same as Nicki’s stance that women demand orgasms, and Schumer’s feminism often lacks a critical race analysis  that Minaj consistently brings to the table. In fact, Schumer has shoved her foot deep in her mouth around racial matters various times and excused some of her actions by holding steadfast to her “feminist” label. Is Nicki perfect? Of course not. But as far as I know she’s not pretending that her feminist cred exempts her from messing up.

amy-schumer-race

Entitlement: Revolutionary, Oppressive, Or Both?

The idea of ensuring women’s pleasure without an underhanded agenda is a radical idea, period. Even the heading for the Cosmo article where Nicki was interviewed—that calls her demands for orgasm “high maintenance”—shows why such demands can be revolutionary in a society that teaches women to be servile; the idea of women putting their pleasure at the forefront and on equal footing to men’s is seen as “too much.”

Especially for women of color, and particularly Black women, that message is key in a society that also exploits our sexuality and makes us objects much more than subjects. Heck, this also connects to age and ensuring that sexually active young women learn how to achieve or at least communicate about orgasms from early on instead of wasting precious years of sexual encounters being too timid, uneducated, unempowered, or whatever to navigate those waters. [That said, I’m not saying it’s young women’s fault that society does a terrible job with sex education or empowering us.]

From a feminist standpoint, demanding orgasms makes sense. “We’re here, we’re horny, and we want to come!” But which women are doing the demanding and which women are prevented from doing so?

In a White supremacist society that hypersexualizes women of color and gives more overall bargaining power to White women regardless of how sexual they are assumed to be, Schumer’s call to be entitled comes from both her body-positive feminism as well as her Whiteness. For both Nicki and Amy, this also intersects with their able-bodied-ness. For women with physical disabilities, who are often desexualized entirely or fetishized by select groups of the population, being entitled to climax with partners intersects with a host of other issues, including mobility concerns and worries about not being able to even enter a partner’s house if it’s not accessible. [Check out the work of Robin Wilson-Beattie with SexAbled, Bethany Stevens with Crip Confessions, and Shanna K. (as well as her peer-reviewed papers) if you’re curious about that!] For Millenials [shout out to my generation!] who are already billed as “spoiled brats” or “lazy and entitled” people who “haven’t paid their dues yet,” demanding better sexual encounters also operates at an interesting crossroads of identities, including age.

So while there can certainly be strength in entitlement, as well as the ensuing action when things aren’t up to snuff, we must not ignore the structural barriers to being able to demand orgasms and the reasons why some people find it waaaaaaay easier to be entitled than others. In short: if we truly want life, liberty, and orgasms for all [who want them], we need to do a lot of social justice work, not just generic sex ed and feminist action.

Is Orgasm Equality Where It’s At?

As was mentioned by other sexuality professionals in the Bussel article, people’s understandings vary in regards to how orgasms happen in the first place, who is responsible for whose orgasms, the value of orgasms vs. the overall sexual journey, and if one can ever truly “give” someone an orgasm or if a better word is “facilitate.” Because of that variability, I don’t really care to focus on the “should you be entitled?” question once I have your attention. I’ll even let you in on a little secret: I actually don’t believe in orgasm equality. I think it misses the mark.

What do I advocate for instead? I believe in striving for pleasure equity and orgasm justice: pleasure, including but not limited to orgasms, for those who want them in the amounts they desire. It’s about giving people autonomy to figure out what they want from sex, the space to communicate it, and the resources to work toward it, not forcing people to have sex to fit someone else’s standards. It’s not about EQUALITY, which means SAMENESS; it’s about FAIRNESS. This graphic that has made the rounds in activist circles explains it perfectly:

equity-vs-equality

During sex, if orgasms are desired, I see them as the product of collaborative effort unless negotiated otherwise. I believe in sexy times where the goals are negotiated among its participants, whether that’s one or twenty one. Is the goal overall pleasure? Is the goal orgasm specifically? Is the goal stress-reduction before a big event, building intimacy, making a baby, making money, something else? Whatever it is, it can’t just be unilaterally decided.  Each person should measure their sexual satisfaction based on their reasons for having sex in any given instance, and goals can be multi-faceted and complex.

Q&A: Sexual Debut + Conservative Background = Help!

I’m a 20-something penis-owner who hasn’t yet made his sexual debut. I grew up in an environment that was pretty conservative and repressive, so issues around sexuality were taboo. I’ve since made a conscious effort to fight this conditioning, but I still feel somewhat uncomfortable around sex. Do you have any resources you would suggest to someone who wants to learn more – how to do it, how to reach orgasm, how to help partners reach orgasm, how to do sex in context of healthy relationships?

Hey Anon! Thanks for reaching out!

I made my sexual debut with a partner at 19, so my first comment would be don’t stress about the age bit (if that was even a concern in the first place). Before my first partner, though, I had fulfilling sexual experiences with myself, so I’d like to highlight the positives that solo-play can bring about. Knowing more about one’s own body—how it feels, how it responds, what things are good/bad—can help immensely when it comes to reaching orgasm with a partner, or even just having a discussion about it. (The second piece is all about communication, but I’ll get to that later). I also think that as a society, we should start acknowledging that solo sexuality can still be gratifying for those who practice it, and it’s not like a person’s “sex-life” begins once another person pops into the picture…but anyway.

As someone who grew up under the Jehova’s Witnesses practice (read: a SUPER conservative Christian denomination), I was educated in the ways of “sex before marriage is wrong,” “homosexuality is a sin,” and all that came with that. I even overheard a conversation where it was said that “masturbation is just like losing your virginity—you are no longer pure after that.” (Oops. I was already touching myself by then, so that was awkward.) Somehow, though, I didn’t end up completely shame- and guilt-ridden the rest of my life. I also know a lot of folks who were raised in very conservative families and came out the other end feeling various degrees of sexual empowerment, so I’m sure you can achieve that as well. Hopefully the following resources can help!

The first place I’d like to point you toward would be the website for one of the places where I work: The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health. That is just CHOCK full of information (check out the Pleasure tab, too, which has info about positive porn, lubricants, toys, and more). Within that site/organization, specifically, I’d say check out the Q&A section here. It’s all questions people have submitted, and I think some of them might be helpful in your situation. Here are the main ones:

  1. Climaxing is not always the goal in sexual interactions, but when it is, you want to make sure it happens! So what to do when you have difficulty? This Q&A answers just that for penis-owners.
  2. On that note, not all people with penises masturbate in the same ways or want their penises touched in the same styles! Here are some tips/tricks for solo stimulation that can also be employed in various ways during sex with partners.
  3. A big question (pardon the pun) that many penis-owners have is around penis size and its impact on sex/relationships. That gets addressed here!
  4. In terms of sexual debut and just general sex-having, anal sex might be on the menu at some point, so it’s important to learn about that and prepare beforehand before just soldiering on, especially if you don’t have lube on hand.
  5. Something that might also help is reading about sex-positive spaces and being around sex-positive people, whose perspective on sex (ideally) could balance/counterpoint your conditioning. However, for someone from a conservative background, entering such a space could be weird or even super uncomfortable, so here are some tips on being more comfortable in sex-positive spaces, and even how to FIND those spaces in the first place.
  6. How do I get my partner to be more sexually adventurous? – This one could help you “talk to yourself” or even articulate things to a partner if you discover you have wishes that might be a bit outside of the mainstream.
  7. If you’re interested in vibrators and toys, this is a good intro for when you’re considering/picking something out.
  8. Someone wrote us because they had strong feelings to their partner’s past experiences, and felt insecure when comparing themselves to their partners’ past lovers. We gave some advice about how to deal with that and communicate those feelings. As someone who might make a sexual debut with another person who has already had partners before, this could be helpful to you.
  9. Sometimes penis-owners lose their erections and wonder why that happened. There are many reasons, and though this Q&A was directed at a person whose partner was the penis-owner, I think it’s important for everyone to read.

My second big resource would be Charlie Glickman’s work, and specifically, the “shame” tag on his prolific blog. He writes a lot about shame and the related situations/feelings, as well as how to recognize, deal with, and overcome them. He has many years in the sexuality education field, and his dissertation was all about sexuality and shame, so he knows what he’s talking about ten times over.

The healthy relationship part of your question I could write about forever and still have things to say, so I’m going to write a separate entry about it in the coming week. Stay tuned!

Racist + Sexist “Adult Novelties”

Trigger-warning for gross sexist, racist language and glorification of non-consent.

Those of you who know me know I *love* talking about sex toys. Not only do I find them personally stimulating (har har har), I’m also just fascinated by how they have evolved, how technological developments have impacted their growth/design, and the ways in which people and the media conceptualize them. I’m fortunate enough to have attended some “novelty expos” in the past for work and I’ve seen a wide array of products. Some have blown my mind with their stylish marketing and innovative designs, but I’ve also had the misfortune of encountering some REALLY horrible toys (read: unsafe materials, terrible packaging, offensive marketing, and more). I wanted to highlight 2 particular companies producing some pretty egregious toys.

Why?

  • Because I want to hold toys and companies to higher standards and share what I know with the people who read this blog
  • Because consumers deserve to find good resources for their sex toys and know which companies are fucked up
  • Because there are some damaging and oppressive stereotypes and ideas being bandied about, and the sex toy industry usually gets a “free pass” because people think sexuality is some magical arena where politics and kindness don’t apply
  • Because we need to acknowledge the pervasive sexism and racism in our fields and see how these things connect to our daily lives

BUT FIRST: some background. Pipedreams and Nasstoys (the ones I discuss here) are part of what’s known in the industry as “The Big Five” (Doc Johnson, Cal Exotics, and Topco being the other three in the club). These are the companies that churn out toys like nobody’s business–the “giants” in the industry. There’s no real sense of “coherent” brand identity to the average consumer because these huge companies have a lot of toys under their belt and a wide array of different lines. Unlike smaller independent stores and companies, these organizations are faceless and commercial (not inherently a bad thing, but it’s not a positive thing for me personally). They also put their profits before their consumers, as evidenced by their practices and the stuff I mention in this post.

Disclaimer: I own a glass Pipedreams toy because I was asked to review it years ago. While the line has a TON of products, and some of them are actually nice, I don’t support them as a brand.

 

Pipedreams

When I went to the ANME Founders Show, I was introduced to the Pipedreams Extreme Toyz line. My immediate thought was a big WTF. They have toys like Flip a Sista Over and Junk in Tha Trunk. If the names and the “cum in her ghetto booty” slogan slapped across the package of the latter aren’t enough to get you riled up, here’s the copy that goes along with these ridiculously offensive toys:

Fuck her first in her tight mocha twat, then Flip A Sista Over and bust a nut in her booty! This handheld honey is the answer to every man’s chocolate fantasies…a sweet black pussy on one end and a big ol’ bubble butt on the other, with nothing getting in the way of you filling her with cum! 

If you love thick black asses, this sista’s got enough Junk in tha Trunk to satisfy your cravings! Fuck her first in her phat booty, then stick it in her snatch and bust a nut in her tight mocha twat! This bubble butt beauty is the answer to every man’s chocolate fantasies…two big round ass cheeks to slap and pound on top, with a sweet black pussy spread eagle underneath! 

Flip her over, insert the vibrating bullet underneath, and enjoy thrilling vibrations in her coochie and ass. When you’re finished, cum inside either hole and never worry about knocking her up!

Where…would I even begin criticizing this? Jesus.
This one also creeps me out due to the way it fetishizes virginity, and while I’m down with most fetishes and fantasies, the problematic thing about this toy and its accompanying text/ideology is that for many people this “virgin ideal” leads to a lot of slut-shaming  (among other things). Similarly, there’s the misogyny and idealization of youth in this other toy, which bears the lovely slogan “I’m young, dumb, and want your CUM!” And while I’m actually a fan of consensual face-fucking, the images for this toy are just downright creepy. They hit super close to home re: the dehumanization of women in day-to-day experiences, and the copy is also atrocious and reeking of rape culture:

She’s all yours to enjoy and there are no rules! Best of all, she never says no to a good time because she always has her mouth full! 

Watch her eyes roll back into her head, then gag her with a taste of your man meat!  If your girl never deep throated you before, now is your chance to enjoy the thrill! (…) She won’t gag or choke, and there’s no annoying teeth to get in the way or bite.  When you’re about to cum, don’t worry about pulling out–blow a fat load right in her mouth and let her swallow!

At the expo I attended, they also had a “shemale” torso (Note: this was their offensive language, not mine–or it was something else but along these lines, like tranny or hermaphrodite)–headless with a huge penis and huge breasts, though I haven’t seen that one being sold…

 

Nasstoys

They have an entire “Latin” section. Don’t even get me started on the packaging. The fact that they have “se habla español” on their company page makes me think that perhaps these folks are in part, men of color? I’m not sure, though! Either way, it’s fucked up.

Their “Isabella Pussy” is described as “super realista pussy” that’s “siempre lista / always ready,” so we once again see gendered language and the idea of constant sexual availability, but this time with racialized connotations to boot. The other model is “Maria,” and I could see that stupid name coming from ten miles away.

The one that is most unnerving to me, though, is the one called “My First Pregnant Latina ‘Knocked Up’ Pussy.” With the history of seeing women, especially women of color, as baby-making machines; with the history of  colonial rape; with the widely-held racist notions/images that Latin@s are “welfare queens” and “promiscuous” and all have a billion babies and get pregnant at 12…this kind of shit does not sit well with me.

BUT WAIT, they also have a racially unmarket one (read: a white one). The difference is that the “Latina” toy is slightly darker and the model on the front has dark hair and a more “Latina-looking” face (which…is another post entirely) vs. the white model who is pale and blonde. *facepalm*

I’m focusing on the things that strike me the hardest as a Latin@ female, but never fear, they also have some delightfully racist dolls that target other groups, like the Mai Li Asian Love Doll, the Geisha masturbating sleeve, and the Asian Geisha Love Doll.
Men aren’t left behind entirely in this racist circus, though, since when it comes to the “lifelike dongs,” there’s a section just for those, and there are Latin, Black, and ones without an adjective which are, you guessed it, the white ones. Because white is normal, once more. Anyway. The “super realistic dongs” are all faux-clever (read: actually just racist and lazy) plays on words that insidiously dehumanize actual Latin men (little pistol, top stud, big bull, wild bull, little bull, and more). And this banner below I think can just speak for itself (especially the “ALL American” part):

 

Again, I know these toys are selling a fantasy and a product, but we need to see how our daily lives connect to this, and how the daily lives of women and people of color are affected and mirrored by these toys and the attitudes toward them. It’s not “just a toy” or “just a fantasy.” These are all created and reflected by the society in which we live, and we can’t afford to just ignore sex (and art, too, for that matter) because it’s some special snowflake (which it’s not).We need to think about what messages these toys send and why people buy them. We need to be critical consumers and media-viewers/makers.
If you want to buy fabulous toys from reputable sources, though, check out the stores in the Progressive Pleasure Club.

 

A Paragraph on Sex-Positivity: GO!

At its core, sex-positive individuals like myself see sexuality as a potentially joyful and productive aspect of human life, one that should not be rooted in shame and relegated to whispered conversations. I find it such an important and boundary-breaking way of looking at the world because it doesn’t dictate specific courses of action so much as it promotes comprehensive education and the availability of options for people to make their own decisions. Thus, there is no “one correct” way of experiencing pleasure and/or expressing one’s sexuality, but instead plenty of room for nuance, fluidity, and difference. For me particularly, sex positivity is deeply tied to ideas about feminism, anti-oppression work, and notions of intersectionality; it’s about the individual, but also the community. Bringing a sex positive attitude into practice means striving for the liberation of individuals from structural forms of oppressive control—recognizing that these don’t play out in the same ways for everyone—and asserting the right of people to pursue their sexual pleasure in ways that feel right for them, as long as they do so in a consensual, informed manner.

Conceptualizations of Sex

The sex itself? It’s sweatier and it’s sweeter, all at once. When it’s tender, it’s not tender like a Hallmark card, but like a cookie fresh out of the oven: steaming, moist, delectable and melt-in-your-mouth. When it’s forceful, it’s not so because one partner is being assaulted or dominated, but because the energy and strong unity of a shared desire feels so urgent and deeply wanted that both partners leap upon it like someone who has been on a hunger strike for a week might approach an all-you-can-eat buffet. Her expectations and the experience of her sexual initiation seem less like a country-western serenade and more an 80’s power ballad.

And another quotation, because it’s what I want out of my sex-life (and so far, what I have):

This sex doesn’t just feel okay, nor is it good simply because it is painless. This sex feels freaking magnificent. Sure, sometimes it’s magnificent like riding a rollercoaster or having a near-death experience, and at other times it’s magnificent like soaking your feet after a long day, but it’s always so much more than just okay.

Via Scarleteen: An Immodest Proposal (which, is in turn: Reprinted from Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti, Seal Press, 2008)


Befriend Your Butt

My freshman year at Brown, I attended a public debate about SexPowerGod–the famous Brown University Queer Alliance dance/fundraiser made notorious thanks to Bill O’Reilly’s efforts. Anyway. Team pro-SPG had the two event coordinators for that Fall (2007): Kathryn Lamb and Robin Peckham. Team anti-SPG had Sean Quigley and Joshua Unseth (’09), two very vocal conservative students (in charge of right-wing organizations and publications on campus). While Quigley was (for the most part, as I recall) quite civil and used academic or intellectual arguments (though I disagreed with them because they were ALL based on the premise of a monolithic moral and religious code which does NOT ACTUALLY EXIST), Unseth was quite the opposite of civil.

I honestly think part of the reason he indulged in ridiculous theatricality was that he knew he was a minority in that debate, and so he decided to have “fun” while he was there. Regardless, it was highly unprofessional and I think that any moderates in the crowd were swayed to the pro-SPG side due to his antics. Anyway. One of his “shticks” was to call LGBTQ folks by “disparaging” names, such as rectal rangers, fudge-packers, carpet-munchers, and butt-pirates. Instead of being (just) insulted, I thought these were actually quite brilliant and pretty hilarious (if wielded appropriately and NOT like he was using them). Am I the only one who images “rectal-rangers” wearing super-hero costumes and flying around?

Anyway, this brings me to the point of this entry: let’s embrace this! I encourage everyone who reads this to explore their inner butt-pirate and get in on some anal play. After all, everyone has an anus! It doesn’t mean you have to love anal ANYTHING, or ever try it again, but at least give yourself the chance to explore the idea.

Many people are scared of anything going “back there,” and that’s why I’m here–to point you in the direction of good resources as you begin (or even consider) your rectal-ranger adventure. For now, I’ll leave you with a video that a friend shared with me today, of Nina Hartley (via here) talking about making friends with your butt and starting off slowly.

If you want more anally-focused info, check out Tristan Taormino & PuckerUp.

Pain vs. Harm (and some other thoughts)

Via Nonzer0 (which you should check out because it’s fantastic).  
Emphasis mine. 
——

From my limited experience:
Pain is different from harm. Whether the two coincide often has to do with intention or context–the pain felt during childbirth is processed and experienced differently (and usually not as psychic or emotional harm, even if the body is injured) whereas an equal amount of physical pain felt when being tortured in someone’s basement or in a POW camp I would guess is much more likely to be harmful.

In less dramatic senses, I think there is more risk of harm when we are acting out of any sort of malice, retributive anger, hatred, resentment, defensiveness, aggression–anything that Yoda would put on the dark side of the force.
This purtains to kink in that, when it is done in a “safe, sane, consensual” manner, one of the intentions may be to cause pain–physical or emotional–but not to harm. Anyone who wants to do you lasting damage isn’t someone that it would be healthy for most people to get kinky with. A good top, when you are not “playing” with power or other kink stuff but doing something more serious, is more like a spiritual guide, knowing when to push and when to slow down, open to feedback, offering support and encouragement when necessary, with steady love beneath whatever else is going on or whatever the expression of it is (you know I don’t necessarily mean romantic love). And in this context, the sub has the opportunity to experience and confront some of the things we struggle most with as humans– perhaps, physical pain, which she will learn is easiest when one surrendors to it or accepts it wholely; mentally, humiliation–which can be an joyful release from selfhood, an entry into intense trance states, a way of taking the ego and breaking it against a rock, failure or guilt–which, in going into fully in the safety of the setting she will learn to fear less in daily life, and to meet fully when it arises, her psychic and physical limitiations–which may help release her from some of the perfectionism conditioned into us by our culture, fear–which she will become intimate with and learn to and enjoy, create for herself the tool of imbuing the terrible with the erotic thus helping her to face it, to make it bearable.

It is a grounds, perhaps most of all, for giving and recieving unconditional love. There is incredible risk on both sides to exposing “shadow” sides, in asking for obedience or giving it, in giving a command or following it. The scene can exist only when both parties conspire together, are in it together. And it is amazing, to humiliate oneself completely in front of someone, to for a period of time exist in a state of utter trust and let someone cause you pain without trying to escape, and instead of leaving, the person stays, appreciates, loves you all the more. And the top, I would guess, has a reciprocal experience–to demand, inflict, command, humiliate, and still be loved. It’s breath-taking, isn’t it?
The difference between this and actual abuse has much to do with explicit consent and intention. Abuse often comes from intentions to harm, defend, protect, intimidate. Kink, in good situations, comes from intentions to expand and open emotionally and experientially, to achieve intimacy, to give and recieve love, and often includes inflicting pain in the service of these things.
Of course some people use kink to channel hatred of various sorts, or to put themselves in harm’s (rather than pain’s) way, and in those scenarios, there is great potential to damage all involved. But in the best cases, sex can become a pretext, a means, a background, or simply a component of a deeply intimate, alchemical process.

Dieta Mediterránea Review (with some spoilers)

I realize I never posted this. Oops. Rectifying that right now!
(This is from Sunday, Aug. 30th, 2009.)
—-

I just got back from watching Dieta Mediterránea with my family (read: mom, dad, maternal grandmother). Going into it, I thought this movie was about a woman torn between two men…but, to my surprise, that was not the case. Sofía is a fierce, willful (sometimes to the point of being very stubborn and even immature) lady with a passionate love of cooking and a bit of wanderlust who is NOT about to make a choice between her long-time boyfriend and this guy she has always been kind of attracted to (a love/hate kind of thing). So she doesn’t!

“Whut? A triad? In a mainstreamy Spanish movie? Fo’ REAL?! ONE THAT WORKS?”

Well. It’s not without its hitches, but there are significantly less problems and resistance than I thought there would be (which seems sweet, but too idealistic). And yes. This group wants the triad model and all people participate–it’s not a V. Well, it kind of is because the female protagonist IS the axis around which the men revolve, but the men DO relate to each other as well.

I was kind of uncomfortable watching it, though, for various reasons:

  • I was with my FAMILY. I couldn’t cheer as enthusiastically as I wanted. I couldn’t say “this is kind of what one of my ideal romantic futures would look like.” I couldn’t fully let me guard down to “un-blank” my face and really enjoy the sex scenes, or the moments of intimacy in general. I couldn’t help but grin widely during a lot of parts, though (just not the sex). Having been awake for almost 24 hours (and now pushing 26, yay!), I was a little cracked out, and add to that the adrenaline of watching a movie where the main characters form a triad, there’s a closeted gay dad, and men TOUCH each other in the triad and KISS each other? And I’m watching this WITH MY FAMILY and only my mom and grandmother know how RELEVANT this is, and they don’t even know the FULL story about how relevant it is to me? It was intense.
  • I was in a movie-theater full of people, all watching a movie that mirrored bits of my life and ideology. I felt judged. Not actively, of course, but…whenever people laughed at certain things, I felt like it was more personal than it “really” was. I felt really sad when people groaned at the gay dad–I knew they were groaning, not because he was cheating on his wife over and over, but because it was with younger men. My dad was one of the most audible groaners and I swear it hurt me to witness that. The groaning or laughing whenever any homosexual activity went on? Yes, I laughed a few times, out of sheer surprise, but not disgust or “hahaha, they’re GAY, ahahahaha.” I was also on edge–I was half-expecting to hear someone shout something derisive, or something about how they were all depraved. It didn’t happen, but I expected it to, and while the expectation is kind of realistic, that’s still really unfortunate (that I expected it at all, I mean). I was also nervous that I’d hear snide comments about the movie and the characters as I left the theater; I didn’t really want to deal with that. I can deal with straightforward shit that’s directed at me; those are easy to brush off. For some reason, though, the people who make comments in front of me degrading shit I love or believe in because they don’t know I love or believe in them? Those upset me.

https://i1.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3230/2677123765_5ef65609a5_o.jpg?w=620
YES. I met Paco, the one on the right. 🙂
The other one (Alfonso Bassave) is my favorite, though.
His nose…is so. good. I just want to nom it.

https://i0.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3079/2677124023_423e880c81_o.jpg?w=620
What. an adorable. smile. (the older man = ???)

https://i0.wp.com/www.fotogramas.es/var/ezflow_site/storage/images/peliculas/dieta-mediterranea/de-fogones-y-hombres/2620012-1-esl-ES/De-fogones-y-hombres_noticia_main.jpg?w=620
And some eyecandy–what a beautiful sight to behold. 🙂

Watch the trailer here!

Babeland Tip-Sheet

From Babeland.

Care and Cleaning

Non-porous Materials

  • Glass should be washed with soap and water. Do not expose glass to extreme temperatures.
  • Pyrex, a heat-resistant glass, can be boiled, put in a dishwasher, or washed with soapy water.
  • Silicone is our material of choice because it will clean easily and thoroughly. To clean, wash the toy with soap and water or place it in the top rack of your dishwasher. Immersing silicone in boiling water for 10 minutes will disinfect it. Silicone may be shared safely after disinfection. Never use silicone lube with silicone toys; this will break down the surface of your toys.
  • Stainless steel can be boiled, soaked in a bleach and water solution, or run through your dishwasher.

Porous Materials

  • Acrylic toys shoudl be cleaned with soap and water.
  • Cyberskin (also knows as Ultraskin and Softskin) is a delicate material; wash it gently with soap and warm water. Air-dry, then powder lightly with cornstarch (do not use talcum powder; it has been linked to cancer). Store the toys in a plastic bag containing a small amount of cornstarch to keep them from getting sticky. Cyberskin may contain some of the same chemicals found in jelly-rubber. We recommend using a condom on Cyberskin toys.
  • Elastomer is a soft, phthalate-free plastic. People who wish to avoid contact with rubber softeners can choose Elastomer toys as a hypoallergenic, durable alternative. To clean, wash with soap and water. We recommend using condoms if sharing the toy and for easier clean-up.
  • Hard plastic toys should be wiped down with a soapy cloth and warm water.
  • Jelly-Rubber is a soft rubber that cannot be completely disinfected. To clean, wipe the toy with a soapy cloth and warm water. Store it in a cool, dry place away from other objects. Jelly-rubber contains latex and phthalates (pronounced “thall-eights”). Phthalates are chemicals used as softeners or solvents. We do not have conclusive information on the health effects they may have. Because of their porous nature and chemical components, we believe the only way to safely use jelly-rubber toys is with a condom, every time.
  • Leather will wipe clean with a damp, soapy cloth or with leather cleaner. Do not soak leather. Wiping with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution (rubbing alcohol) will disinfect leather toys. After cleaning, you may recondition your toy using a leather conditioner. Protect metal parts from tarnish by applying a coat of clear nail polish. Always let leather air dry and store in a cool, dry place.
  • Neoprene is a synthetic, rubber-based polychloroprene. Wash it with warm water and mild soap, then air-dry.
  • Nylon can be hand or machine washed.
  • Soft vinyl toys have a smooth, flexible surface that is easy to clean with soap and water. These toys typically contain much lower levels of chemicals than those made of jelly-rubber.
  • Vinyl will wipe clean with a damp, soapy cloth or rubbing alcohol.

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Safer Sex Tips

Safer sex doesn’t have to be a chore; just like enjoying a relaxing bath or healthy meal, safer sex is a great way to take care of yourself. Browse these fun and useful tips for making it hot.

Lube should be used liberally, especially between a barrier and the receiver. If you are prone to yeast infections or urinary tract infections, we recommend using sugar and glycerin-free lube. Washing off and/or urinating after sex will help clean out your system and lessen your risk of infection. Do not use oil-based lubes with latex products, including latex condoms. Some lubricants contain Nonoxynol-9, which is a spermicidal detergent that can irritate skin and delicate membranes, making you more susceptible to STDs. Babeland does not carry products with Nonoxynol-9.

Barriers should be used for safer sex with partners and/or toys. Buy extras and play with them before partner sex so you know how they work. Use condoms on porous toys, like rubber or latex to protect you from the chemicals in these toys.

Non-latex Barriers can be used by folks with latex sensitivities. Try polyurethane condoms, nitrile gloves, plastic wrap, and polyurethane dams. Polyurethane and nitrile are compatible with oil-, water-, and silicone-based lubricants. They protect against STDs and pregnancy.

  • Masturbating with gloves, condoms, or dams can be a great way to further eroticize them.
  • Buy differently-sized gloves in different colors to make it clear in the heat of the moment which are medium and which are large.
  • To avoid cross-contaminating, use different color gloves for the butt and the vagina or use a marker to put an “X” on the gloved hand you will be using for the butt.
  • Use dental dams or non-microwavable plastic wrap for cunnilingus and analingus. Put an “X” on the outside so when things get good and slippery you can tell the sides apart.

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General Tips for Longer Toy Life

We strongly recommend using a condom with toys that are made of porous material. This will help prevent transference of body fluids that can carry bacterial and/or viral infections.

  • Remove batteries when storing vibrators.
  • Never submerge electrical components in water. Use a damp, soapy cloth to clean electric toys.
  • Protect your water-resistant and waterproof vibes by making sure the rubber O-ring stays tight around the battery compartment. If the O-ring is missing or broken, the vibe is no longer safe to use in water.
  • For vibrators with cords, wrap a small piece of electrical tape around the vibrator/wire and wire/plug connection points to strengthen them.
  • Rough edges on hard plastic toys can be filed down with a nail file.
  • If you are using a bullet vibe internally, put it in a condom and use the condom, not the power cord, to pull it out.

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G-spot Tips

The G-spot, or urethral sponge, fills with fluid during arousal and has a texture that can feel bumpy or crinkly when felt through the front wall of the vagina. Pressure on the G-spot can cause some folks to ejaculate fluid, which is similar to prostatic fluid.

  • To find the G-spot, insert a finger or fingers 2-3 inches into the vagina and press toward the pubic bone with a rhythmic “c’mere” motion.
  • Curved toys, like the G-Twist and Orchid G, are good for G-spot stimulation. Thumping, tapping, and vibration can also feel great.
  • Try combining G-spot play with oral stimulation of the clit.
  • Some folks prefer indirect G-spot stimulation; try pressing down on your belly just above the pubic bone or applying pressure toward the belly button during butt play.
  • Experiment with positions that angle toys, fingers, penis, etc. toward your belly button during penetration.
  • A full vagina may block ejaculate, so try pulling out toys, fingers, etc. when you orgasm, and bear down.
  • Finally, G-spot response varies dramatically, so enjoy all the sensations – try not to make it a quest.

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P-spot Tips

The P-spot, or prostate, is an almond-shaped gland located between the rectum and the bladder. The prostate produces fluid that helps semen travel through the urethra during ejaculation. During arousal, the P-spot fills the fluid, which can make it easier to feel. When aroused, some P-spots feel similar to the muscle between the thumb and forefinger when it is tensed.

  • To find the P-spot, insert a finger or fingers 2-3 inches into the anus and gently press toward the belly button with a “c’mere” motion. Use lots of lube and relax.
  • Try different techniques with your P-spot: stroking, massaging, tapping, vibration, or gentle thumbing.
  • Play with your perineum (the soft, fleshy skin between the testicles and the anus); tapping here can access your P-spot indirectly. You’ll also be hitting the base of your penis.
  • Curved toys are especially good for P-spot stimulation – try the Aneros, Protouch Plug, or Pandora. Make sure toys have a flared base to prevent them from getting lost.
  • P-spot responses vary. Try not to be goal oriented; instead, enjoy each new sensation along the way.

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Anal Sex Tips

Always remember our mantra to help you on your back door journey: “Relaxation, Communication, and Lubrication”. When playing with a partner, it’s important that the person being penetrated be in control of what’s happening, especially if you’re new to anal sex. Let your partner know what feels good and what doesn’t. And, of course, have fun!

  • Always use toys that have a handle or flared base so they don’t slip inside the rectum.
  • Always use lube – the butt does not self-lubricate – and begin slowly by stimulating the outside of the anus.
  • Ease your finger in pad-first to avoid scratching and poking.
  • Cover your toys with condoms for safe and fast cleanup.
  • Softer materials are easier on sensitive tissue and will follow the natural curve of the rectum. Bumps and ridges can feel good sliding in and out.
  • Angle your fingers, penis, or toy toward the front of the body.
  • Stick to the butt – going from butt to vagina can cause infections.
  • Numbing creams are unsafe – lube and relaxation are better.
  • Pull out gently and carefully.

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Cockring Tips

Cockrings restrict the flow of blood out of the penis; making possible greater sensitivity and a firmer erection. They can even prolong erection. As with any toy, responses vary. Cockrings aren’t recommended for anyone with vascular or nerve diseases. If you experience any discomfort numbness or tingling – take it off.

  • Secure the cocring at the base of the penix, behind the testicles, so that it is snug and comfortable.
  • For new users we recommend an adjustable cockring because one can remove or cut it off if it becomes uncomfortable.
  • Non adjustable or stretchy cockrings should be put on while you are semi-flaccid. Hold the ring under your balls and insert your testicles one at a time. Next tuck your penis through head first. Hold the cockring in place until your erection secures it. Lube it up to avoid pinching pubic hair.
  • To remove a cockring, wait until you lose your erection. Don’t leave the cockring on for more than 20 minutes and always remove it if you feel any discomfort before then.
  • Experienced users can play with how long to leave it on. If you plan to sleep in it, use an adjustable cockring and keep it loose.

Sacrifice vs. True Contribution / Poly-positivity

Because there’s more to giving and making compromises than just saying YES or OKAY. Realizing that there’s a difference between complying willingly and happily and saying yes out of a feeling of obligation that will eventually lead to resentment and guilt-tripping other people involved is the first step in NOT doing the latter. It’s unhealthy and only leads to problems–bitterness, passive/aggresiveness, feelings of being unfilfilled, and the list goes on. The next steps are figuring out how to recognize what choices would lead to each of these two and picking the ones that will lead to HAPPYTIMES. It’s also a matter of boundaries. But don’t listen to me–just go read the article/entry!

Now, a link to an LJ entry (written by the same person) describing how they’ve navigated the seas of communicating, establishing boundaries, and TRULY giving (not giving to then hold that over someone’s head). = polyjoy (that sounds like a candy bar!) 🙂 Read it and feel the warm n’ fuzzies. Personally, I’d one day like to have a wife or partner write/talk about me that way. I strive for showing respect, love, and all that good stuff, and it would mean the world to me if a partner’s partner valued me in such a way and said such lovely things. 🙂 I mean, I think I’ve (sort of) been in that position already, but this all sounds way more intense and serious.

Anyway–these are good articles for poly, mono, and unlabeled/otherwise-labeled people alike. 🙂 These lessons and examples can be used in a wide variety of situations.